Soaps and Serials : Things I Noticed About Soap Operas

Things I Noticed About Soap Operas

Everybody just unexpectedly shows up at anyone's door without phoning first or giving any kind of message that they are coming over.

The homes are always so quiet with no TV or radio on.

Couples always fall in love, break up, get back together again and then break up again etc..

Somebody always has "time to talk" whenever someone shows up at their workplace to discuss something.

The children grow up so fast. They can jump from being babies to teenagers in just a couple of years.

Everyone has a 'dark secret' from their past and it always gets revealed later on.

Weddings always get delayed over something unexpected happening.

Accidents or any other shocking tragedies always happen on Fridays.

Come to Middle-Earth, a world beyond the furthest reaches of your imagination

Re: Things I Noticed About Soap Operas

Since the origin of all soap operas was the collection of 15-minute continued melodramas on radio with the prime interest of grabbing the listener's interest and urging them to purchase the advertisers products -

Is it not ironic that on radio P&G used the half-hour weekly Red Skelton show to advertise (what was a new product then) T-I-D-E while using daytime radio to promulgate a variety of 15-minute shows?

In the 1940's and '50's the soaps began at 10 or 11 am, and offering quarter-hour segments, aired 'til 6 pm. From my infancy I recall a segment on When A Girl Marries in which Joan had been kidnapped by a frustrated suitor, husband Harry feared she was dead and was being ardently pursued by a woman who HOPED Joan were dead ... or at least would never return. LOL

I'm like 9 years old in 1952, home for 2 weeks with the chicken pox, and The Right to Happiness, 3:45 on NBC sponsored by P&G, caught my attention 'cause Carolyn Nelson, wife of the governor Miles, had been kidnapped by people running an insane asylum. Efficient business woman Annette Thorpe hoped Carolyn had died because her one goal in life while feigning sympathy for governor Miles was to capture him romantically for ever. Meantime Carolyn's former husband Dwight Kramer, the father of her son Skip, had figured out she was in the asylum and had taken a job as helper planning to help her escape. Now that was pretty heady stuff for a 9-year old! And because TRtH maintained the 3:45 airing from 1952 'til 1956 when it was abruptly cancelled on NBC and moved to CBS, I'd run home from school daily to find out what was going on with Carolyn, Skip, and everyone. Incidentally Miles was played by John Larkin, radio's Perry Mason and Edge of Night's Mike Karr. Miles lost his bid for gubernatorial reelection and died in 1954 or '55. But John Larkin returned as crime-fighter Lee MacDonald who helped extricate Carolyn from the evil deeds of Jack Townsend trying to fleece her of the great trust fund for which she was responsible on the day TRtH opened on CBS and continued in the role while being held prisoner and drugged by ambulance chasers who murdered the district attorney. Now, considering that this was a 15-minute serial (and with the commercials was only 12 minutes or so of drama, an awful lot of stuff was happening. And that was true of all soap operas.

A book guiding the potential radio writer with respect to soaps, said you had to plan the week's episodes so that Friday would be a cliff hanger, Monday a potential resolution, and the middle of the week time for lots of recap to fill in the asual listener on what had happened.

The radio format was followed exactly and CBS scored heavily with the introduction of Love of Life at 12:15, Search for Tomorrow at 12:30 ... but radio's long-running Guiding Light when put on TV at 12:45 using the same scripts and actors as the radio version which aired at 1:45 ... so if you missed a TV episode you could catch the same one on radio an hour later.

Finally in 1956 with the introduction of TWO 30-minute soap operas, CBS established the potential future of daytime serials. Eventually all of the 15-minute shows were extended to 30 minutes (or cancelled). But if you seriously look at how overblown and drawn out soaps became when extended to 60-minutes, you can better understand how the serials overextended themselves financially, especially with viewership falling away in the 1980's and '90's.

I find all the talk and discussion shows boring. I'd like to go back to the day when soaps began at 12 noon and aired until 4:30. But that'll never occur again in my lifetime. So keep watching, be prepared for the Friday cliff hangers and, for goodness' sake, get the writers to move their stories along more quickly. I'm 71 years old and am being forced to turn to nighttime TV for interesting entertainment. JMHO!

Re: Things I Noticed About Soap Operas

I love your reply. Soaps do indeed have an interesting history. I'm thinking of Christina Crawford's performance in, The secret Storm. She got ill while performing on that show and her mother, Joan Crawford, replaced her temporarily while she was gone. Joan was middle aged at that point and played a young lass. It would be hilarious to watch that today.

Come to Middle-Earth, a world beyond the furthest reaches of your imagination

Re: Things I Noticed About Soap Operas

The aging child is well documented. A kid born and ending up about four or five, will depart and return as a teen-ager or young adult in two years.

About the best place to observe how this all plays out is best scene today, I guess, in Dark Shadows.

Granted, actors will portray different characters in the time zones, but there are some odd bits, mainly with Roger Davis (of Alias Smith and Jones) being written out as one character and later returns as a fellow seen on the side of the road. I never cared for him as an actor, but I believe he was supposed to be the same fellow. Can't recall why tho.

One of the more telling things about DS tho was a party was actually going to be held and I realized only about five actors appeared in each episode. The party, needless to say, never occurred, or it wasn't shown. I was actually looking forward to it.

Re: Things I Noticed About Soap Operas

No body's got the same first name

Re: Things I Noticed About Soap Operas

This actually occurred on As The World Turns with Duncan McCechnie's daughter loving an old boyfriend named Thomas and there was Tom Hughes running around as well.

Thomas was never shown, but she kept saying his name so much, then finally crossed paths with Tom Hughes, it very briefly flared up. It was the only time I heard two guys, even tho one wasn't ever seen, had the same name like that.